As the MMA world awaits the return of injured former longtime UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, fellow former champ B.J. Penn is in Brazil at Nova Uniao training for his third fight with Frankie “The Answer” Edgar. The two rivals will settle their differences in the cage at the end of the upcoming TUF 19, which will also serve as “The Prodigy’s” featherweight debut.
Penn recently posted a photo of himself already looking in top shape with his illustrious training partners, UFC champions Jose Aldo and Renan Barao. But “The Prodigy” still took some time to give “The Spider” some encouraging words, speaking to Canal Combate (via MMA Fighting) to deliver a message to Silva:
"I wish you were here in [Brazil] with us, Anderson. I just want to say, a lot of people [are] talking. I just want to tell for you, whatever you decide, I support you. You're the best. You set the records. Obrigado. I'll see you when I come back home to the United States. Stay strong, Anderson."
Those are some heartfelt condolences from Penn, who, like Silva, will look to make a triumphant comeback to MMA. But also like Silva, Penn has the deck stacked against him. He’s returning to a new lower weight class after having had difficulty cutting down to lightweight at times, and he’s already lost to “The Answer” twice. Penn has been out of fighting since his one-sided battering at the hands of welterweight Rory MacDonald at UFC on FOX 5.
That’s a similar situation to Silva, who would be in the same boat (minus the new weight class, of course) if he were ever to return from his broken leg and look for vengeance on Chris Weidman. “The All-American” famously beat Silva twice at UFC 162 and 168, and has since stated that he thinks a trilogy match with “The Spider” just wouldn’t be fair.
But even if the legendary Silva does decide to come back and make another run at the belt, Penn will support him. “The Prodigy” has a ton of talent backing him up right now, and he’s planning on beating Edgar and coming for the belt. Problem is, his training partner Aldo has it right now. Either way, Penn still has a lot of work to do before he receives a title shot in the stacked UFC 145-pound division.
Penn and Silva are two of the precious few fighters remaining from their generation who still have the fire and skill to step back into the Octagon, but even that will be highly questioned if they lose their next fights. There’s not even an assurance that there will be another one for Silva, although all signs do point to him making a full recovery and returning to the Octagon.
As for Penn, it’s going to be a big year for him on TUF 19, and his fight with Edgar will tell the tale of whether he still has what it takes or not. Will the motivated “Prodigy” show up and silence all of the critics, or is he headed for yet another loss to “The Answer?”